Welcome to the NFC East Positional Power Rankings!  Now that the NFL draft is over, we will be breaking down 1 position group per week and power ranking each unit in the division.  Last time we covered each teams’ linebackers so today we are on to the secondaries!

If you missed any of the previous articles in our series you can check them out here:

1) New York Giants

The Depth Chart & 2020 Stats

  • Logan Ryan – 94 tackles, 1 INT, 9 PD, 3 FF, 2 Fr, 1 sack
  • Jabrill Peppers – 91 tackles, 1 INT, 11 PD, 1 FF, 1 FR, 2.5 sacks
  • Julian Love – 64 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PD
  • James Bradberry – 54 tackles, 3 INT, 18 PD, 2 FF, 1 FR
  • Adoree Jackson – 12 tackles
  • Darnay Holmes – 30 tackles, 1 INT, 5 PD, 1 Fr, 0.5 sacks
  • Aaron Robinson – 3rd round pick

The Giants have come a long way on the defensive side of the ball over the last couple of seasons.  Last offseason they gambled on James Bradberry, signing him to a 3-year deal worth $43.5 million after 4 middling years in Carolina.  The gamble paid off big time as Bradberry experienced a career resurgence in 2020.  He was PFF’s 5th highest graded outside CB in coverage and was 4th in forced incompletion rate at 21%.  

This offseason they took another massive risk, signing Adoree Jackson to a 3-year deal worth $39 million.  Jackson has been one of the more consistent CBs in the NFL from 2017-2019 but only appeared in 3 games during the 2020 season following a mysterious knee injury.  The team also spent a 3rd round pick on Aaron Robinson to compete with Darnay Holmes for the CB3 spot.

At safety, they have Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers as projected starters.  Although Peppers has never lived up to his 1st round selection in the draft, he is a solid and versatile player for the defense and Logan Ryan provides stability behind him.  

If James Bradberry’s 2020 was a new trend rather than a blip on the radar, and if Adoree Jackson can return to his 2019 form following his injury, the Giants could have a very good defense in 2021.

2) Washington Football Team 

The Depth Chart & 2020 Stats

  • Landon Collins – 41 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FF, 2 sacks
  • Kamren Curl – 88 tackles, 3 INT, 1 TD, 4 PD, 2 sacks
  • Troy Apke – 35 tackles, 2 PD
  • William Jackson III – 45 tackles, 1 INT, 11 PD
  • Kendall Fuller – 50 tackles, 4 INT, 11 PD
  • Jimmy Moreland – 44 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FF, 0.5 sacks

The Football Team had a good pass defense a year ago.  Now, with Ronald Darby gone and his role being filled by William Jackson, the Football Team could have an even better secondary in 2021.  Darby had his good moments but he was too up and down to be relied on.  Jackson should provide a more steady force opposite of Kendall Fuller.

Landon Collins returns to the lineup following an Achilles injury in 2020.  How he rebounds from that injury could be key for the defense, as Troy Apke didn’t do anything to inspire confidence when he filled in for Collins last season.

Kamren Curl was a pleasant surprise for the Football team, performing really well as a 7th round rookie.  If he can build on his performance from a year ago, and if Landon Collins comes back healthy, the Football Team defense could really shine in 2021.

3) Philadelphia Eagles

The Depth Chart & 2020 Stats

  • Rodney McLeod – 66 tackles, 1 INT, 7 PD, 2 FR, 1 TD
  • Anthony Harris – 104 tackles, 7 PD
  • Darius Slay – 59 tackles, 1 INT, 6 PD
  • Avonte Maddox – 40 tackles, 3 PD
  • Zech McPhearson – 4th round pick

While Washington and New York could both have top 10 defenses in 2021, the Eagles and Cowboys are nowhere close to that level.  The Eagles got fine safety play last year out of Rodney McLeod and Jalen Mills, but their cornerback play was atrocious.  Darius Slay gave up 1.4 yards per coverage snap which ranked 67th in the league among outside corners while Avonte Maddox was routinely abused on the outside.  The Maddox at outside corner experiment should be abandoned forever, and he should move back into the slot for the best chance of success.

Rodney McLeod is coming off of his 2nd consecutive season-ending injury this year and Jalen Mills is gone to New England.  The Eagles signed Anthony Harris to a 1-year deal for $5 million this offseason.  He was a tackle machine last year for the Vikings and should bring some stability to the back end of the defense. 

Unfortunately, the safety position simply isn’t the problem in Philly.  The cornerbacks are.  Darius Slay hasn’t been good in 2 years, and the decision to trade 2 draft picks for him and then make him the highest-paid corner in the league looks awful in hindsight.  Avonte Maddox’s physical limitation requires him to play in the slot, but the Eagles don’t have another outside corner.  So, in the 2021 NFL draft, they selected Zech McPhearson, another corner who likely will be unable to play outside.

While the Eagle’s safety room isn’t the worst, their corner room is truly one of the worst in the entire NFL and they would come in 4th on this list if they didn’t share a division with the Cowboys.

4) Dallas Cowboys 

The Depth Chart & 2020 Stats

  • Reggie Robinson II – 1 tackle, 1 FF
  • Donovan Wilson – 71 tackles, 2 INT, 3 PD, 3 FF, 2 FR, 3.5 sacks
  • Kelvin Joseph – 2nd round pick
  • Trevon Diggs – 58 tackles, 3 INT, 14 PD, 1 FF, 1 sack
  • Jourdan Lewis – 59 tackles, 2 PD, 1 FR, 1 sack
  • Anthony Brown – 39 tackles, 2 INT, 3 PD, 1 FR, 1 TD, 1 sack

As bad as the Eagles’ secondary is, the Cowboys’ is much worse.  Trevon Diggs struggled mightily in the first part of his rookie season before showing some reason for optimism down the stretch.  The Cowboys really need him to take a 2nd-year leap because they don’t really have much else.

They spent a 2nd round pick on Kelvin Joseph after they saw both Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II go off the board in the 2 spots in front of them in the draft.  I had a day 3 grade on Joseph so I am skeptical that he will be able to provide much in his rookie year.  

The lone bright spot for the Cowboys’ secondary is safety Donovan Wilson, who was very productive a year ago.  If Wilson and Diggs can both take another step forward this season the Cowboys could have some pieces to build around long term.  Unfortunately, they just need more pieces to succeed and it will likely be another long year for their secondary.  At least they have the offense to compete in shootouts when their defense can’t get stops. 

Positional Power Rankings

  Cowboys Eagles Giants Football Team
QB 1 2 3 4
RB 3 2 1 4
WR 1 4 3 2
TE 4 1 2 3
OL 2 1 4 3
DL 3 1 4 2
LB 1 4 3 2
DB 4 3 1 2
AVG 2.4 2.3 2.6 2.8
         

So there you have it, our definitive NFC East Divisional Power Rankings.  The Eagles officially come in with the highest average ranking on the strength of their trench play, narrowly edging out the Cowboys who have a key advantage at the QB position.  Meanwhile, the Giants and Football team finish 3rd ad 4th respectively.  While the Football team probably has one of the better top to bottom rosters in the division, failing to be ranked 1st at any position group took its toll and pushed them down the final average ranking board.